Depression is something I have struggled with since I had my first-born in 2007. I used to be embarrassed about it and wonder if there was something wrong with me; now I know it's just a part of my structure, personality type, and how my brain responds to stressful or mundane times. That doesn't mean I have to be the victim, allowing it to take over stretches of my life. It used to, but I know now that I have the power and the control to fight it, and end it.
Fighting off depression is so difficult, I think especially because it requires energy and that is something a depressed person has none of. The fact is that there are hard things in life, and with depression it comes down to this:
Are you going to let this press the pause button on your life?
Or are you going to fight back and take control?
Depression isn't a choice, but what you do about it is.
Over the last nine years, I have discovered some things that can combat depression without medicine [although I did go down the medicinal path when I had post-partum]. With consistency, I ward off the blues every time now.
Do something different.
I have found that my habits play a big role in how I'm doing as a person. When I do the same thing day in and day out for too long, I find myself in a slump. I start to lose excitement for my days, I feel tired and sluggish, I lose interest, I get lazy. I've had a new habit totally change my life. Little things like taking a walk once a day, listening to a podcast while I fold the laundry, or waking up earlier have impacted my spirit. Sometimes you just have to make a change and find something that adds joy to your days.
Creation holds power, and I don't mean that in a strange way, I mean God created it and it reflects Him; it has the power to influence us and make us feel things. When you step outside of your bubble and get outside, scientifically, you feel better. Did you know that almost everyone walking around is low on vitamin D? A lack of vitamin D plays a big part in depression, and guess where we get it- sunlight. For me, getting outside once a day is probably the biggest cure for depression. I just let the kids dress themselves and wander to the park across the street with some water or coffee and my headphones. I walk slowly back and forth while I listen to an inspiring podcast or some good music and let the kids burn some energy. Get outside and make a very simple difference.
Change your diet.
There are things we eat on a meal-to-meal basis that we were not designed to eat. Food is medicine, and "you are what you eat" is truer than most people would like to admit. Gluten is linked to depression, and gluten is in everything. Try eating paleo, as it is a clean diet that has a tremendous impact on how you feel.
Stop sitting and start moving.
Do you know about the effects sitting has on our bodies?
God designed us to be extremely active and almost constantly hard-working, and here we are sitting 10+ hours a day! It's not good for us, and standing up is a great, simple way to start fighting back against depression. Consider a standing desk and standing mat, start walking in the mornings, take a Zumba class, get up and lunge every hour if you work in an office, if you're a stay-at-home mom, make a rule that you won't sit down until dinnertime. Make the choice to educate yourself and work against the downward pull you're experiencing in your life right now. Say no to excuses.
Go the homeopathic way.
There are some excellent sources for curing our ailments- physical, mental, and emotional- with what God put in the soil of our planet. I always tell people to research for themselves, because something might jump out at you that you feel will work best. However, things like St. John's Wart, essential oils, increasing the healthy fats in my diet, and drinking a gallon of water a day for a month have helped me so much in the past.
Get more sleep at night.
I know that pull to take naps during the day when you're depressed, and I'm not talking about that. You need to go to bed earlier at night. I also know that sometimes depression comes with insomnia, but just take that first step of getting into bed early. Say no to Netflix, pull out a book, turn off the super bright lighting, and breathe. Don't stress about falling asleep or getting 8+ hours; just relax and fall asleep when you fall asleep, and get into this habit every night. I have found that eventually, especially when coupled with rising early, I start to actually fall asleep soon after I climb into bed. Sleep cures a multitude of issues, and depression is high on that list.
Get really busy.
This isn't for you if you're one of those people whose calendars are full to the brim almost daily. Your schedule might be the reason you're feeling down [in fact, if you are too busy you might need to clear your schedule for a bit and take this advice in the opposite direction]. But, if you're like me- a stay-at-home mom with my own schedule, you might be struggling with depression because you've got too much time serving your family at home and not enough time getting out and doing things with other people. I know getting out of the house with little kids is exhausting, but it can help. Join a Bible study, moms group or book club, sign up for a gym class, get involved in your church, get yourself in some sort of school organization for parents or join a homeschool co-op, plan some play dates, get on MeetUp and make some new friends or take up a new hobby like hiking, sign up for a 5k and start training. Just get some things on your calendar and make a rule- no canceling.
Talk to someone.
Walking depression alone seems logical to avoid judgement, but it's the worst thing you can do. Telling someone keeps you from staying isolated, and sometimes talking it out even helps you see something that's causing your struggle that you hadn't realized before. Choose a trustworthy friend, or your husband, and tell them what's up. Ask them to check in on you once a day.
Pick up your Bible.
I think when you're depressed it's easy to feel guilty for it, and when we feel guilty or shameful we tend to stray from the Lord. This isn't the time to skip your quiet time, in fact you need it now more than ever. God can handle your emotions, He can handle your heart, He can handle your struggles. He wants them! So go sit with some coffee and your Bible and just start reading. Download a She Reads Truth plan.
if you feel like you need to, but don't let all those excuses get in the way of the one true Cure for our desperation. Remember Peter trying to walk on the water? Once he took his eyes off Jesus, he went under.
Depression is not a small struggle, it's a serious and crippling sickness, and my heart goes out to you if you're reading this and relating.
I am always available to talk and pray, and if nothing else, take comfort in knowing that someone else gets it, and has been there but overcome.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear I will help you".